We Made it Across the Gulf Stream!

Sun 11 Apr 2010 22:52
24:40.61 N
80:09.735 W

Trip odometer: 644 miles

This morning, the weather outlook for the Gulf Stream improved (13-16 knot, 2-4' waves) for today, and we took the chance. Well, the weather reports were WRONG. Actually, the wind part was accurate, but the waves were way off. Everything started out fine, but waves grew throughout the day to six feet with what seemed like occasional 10-foot rollers. The first 3/4 of the trip was dramatic, but not scary. The last 1/4 of the trip was scary. Here's what happened on the crossing:

We were hailed by a Coast Guard helicopter, and asked questions. Then we were circled by a Coast Guard cutter, and, finally, we were boarded by the Coast Guard in rolling seas for a safety inspection (the Coast Guard officers were delightful). We passed.

Weather Alert was announced by Coast Guard on VHF for thunderstorm cell with chance of 35 knot winds, water spouts, hail, heavy rain.

Crazy intersecting sets of swells.

Isabel said, "This isn't so bad," at some point during the early final 1/4 of the trip.

The rudder broke 3 hours from Key Biscayne, forcing Garth to have to steer by motor alone, which isn't nearly as easy or as comfortable or responsive. Turns out the rudder blade, which is made of 2 layers of 1/2" ply, plus several layers of 6 oz. glass on each side -- is bent sideways at about a 7 degree angle.

Rose ate nothing all day until 5:00, when we were approaching Key Biscayne and she was suddenly hungry.

At about this point, with the waves diminishing, Garth suggested it might be time to break into a rousing rendition of the "Bee-ay-bay" song," our anthem of relief and happiness. We held off, so as not to jinx it. . . .

Then we got caught in a thunderstorm--only rain and thunder and lightning--as we were just a few miles from Key Biscayne.

Just as we approached the lighthouse at the tip of Key Biscayne, about 300 yards off shore, during the thunderstorm -- we ran out of gas. Well, the main tank ran dry. Garth had to pour a quick gallon from a spare tank into the main tank, laughing and saying, "What else could possibly go wrong?!" And I said, "Don't ask!" thinking that the motor, which had been working so well all day might quit at any moment. Plus there was that chance of waterspouts. . . .
We pulled into No Name Harbor, at the southern tip of Key Biscayne, very humbled and relieved -- and elated to be back.

Lesson learned: we have no business on the Gulf Stream except in glassy calm, 0-5 knot days.

We'll post more soon. We're hunkered down in the boat, to get out of the thunderstorm. The girls are happily playing a game they invented involving characters drawn on paper and something about a turkey dinner.